Carnival 64th – It doesn’t get any better than this
Carnival 64 was spectacular and while some stayed away, saving their pennies for Carnival 65, the 2018 events followed each other in rapid succession, all well-orchestrated and incredibly entertaining.
The Grand Parade, 2,600 participants, five hours long – was totally breathtaking with TOB as the first group presenting the Rise of the Phoenix. What are they going to do for Carnival 65, if they already went all out for 64!
Incredible workmanship and skill, in a relatively short period of time from early January to early February, went into Empire Carnival Group’s interpretation of the Garden of Eden, Los Laga Bai’s King Robert’s army and Dushi Carnival Group’s take on the Jewels of the Caribbean.
One segment of the parade that moved me to tears was Unity Carnival Group, with some of Aruba’s special needs persons, marching in costumes, singing and dancing: “We should take care of each other, For Once And For All.” The initiative by Aruba Doet, made me weepy. Bless you on the inclusion, that’s what the Road Jam is talking about.
With some help from philosophical friends, I now look at Carnival as a unique expression of the island’s culture – it’s what sets us apart. And in an era of a uniform global culture our need to be unique and different is satisfied via an annual celebration of team spirit and solidarity.
Team spirit? Carnival is a group activity, it is an equal opportunity platform and requires the collaboration of a great number of people. This co-production between designers, organizers, runners and helpers – TOB even had relief shoulder-piece carriers within the group – makes the experience such a mutually-enjoyed celebration.
Solidarity? The kissing and hugging and the loving exchange between sideliners and parade participants is heart-warming, raising the level of our national oxytocin – promoting social bonding, and yes, sexual reproduction, in both sexes! We cheer the parade goers, take pictures and vow to go in ourselves the following year.
It’s all About Love! Thank you, Jeon and Rasta, for coming up with such a great composition, spreading such a positive message. Isn’t it astounding that in an era filled with electronic noise, a wave of 2,600 revelers flows onward on the wings of a melodious ditty advocating the need to take care of each other? What great content, just priceless, with the whole island embracing an old fashion group sing-along.
The big democracy – That was also clear to see in our parade, that Carnival doesn’t discriminate. There was total acceptance of age, young and old, fat and skinny, religion, sexual orientation, and gender, with a strong Rainbow / Pride representation as an important
symbol for an island culture of equality. Applause to the Rainbow Float and Lion Fish floats, they were both incredible museum pieces.
Female power – This island’s female population carries immense economic burdens, while embracing Carnival as their opportunity to shine, confident and resplendent! Women are the majority of parade participants, and they were having a great time, flaunting perfect makeup, lashes, nails, and hair! It is no secret that the empowerment of women is the key to economic and social progress. Yes, women hold the key to our success as a community, and they were confident and gorgeous keeping up the good work they do educating kids and putting bread on the table. Also having fun once in a while, letting it all hang. Power to them. Power to us!
Carnival is over, we’d better get back to life.
Last week the MinFEC – Finance, Economy, Culture – took on the subject of Moonlighting reiterating the obvious, which is not so obvious in Aruba, that government employees cannot hold down a second job in addition to their full time, salaried government duties, unless specific permission is solicited and granted, BEFORE assuming any added paid-for responsibilities in other areas, that might sometimes be in direct CONFLICT of interest with the official occupation.
She was berating a particular radio personality who is a government employee and a former AVP member of parliament who took it upon himself to rack her over the coals every day during his air time on channel 90.
His response was that he was doing the radio program during his free time and not on the government clock. Maybe.
The minister is of course right. It is ethically wrong to work in two places at the same time, but it’s a small island and you have to cut people some slack. Yes, a senior member of the police can play in a band if music is his hobby and his passion. Granted, music has anti-stress benefits, and is good for the soul, as added-value. Work somewhere are a volunteer after-hours? That’s good for us all, but transparency is the key.
No, you cannot work as a draftsman for the land department during the day, and draft construction plans for a fee after-hours, then submit them to yourself for approval in the morning.
Or work as the inspector of medications, own a pill-import business, and rent space from a large pharmacy chain as a tenant, thus securing preferential status, to the medications you privately import and publicly approve.
You see we are all children, and when boundaries are not clearly stated we will test, how far we can go and how much we can get away with.
I believe that the whole business of work place ethics needs to be revisited. No, you cannot take copy paper home from the office, or refer all potential legal disputes to your family firm for resolution.
So, I am with the MinFEC, and following her declaration a general crackdown on the double dippers is in order. It will help redefine what’s appropriate and what’s not.
In the current government, for the first time, with have an Integrity portfolio under the wings of the MinPres.
It would be good to dust that cape off and present it to a person of high morals, who would become our national Guardian of Ethics, reminding us all what is acceptable and what’s not, draw the line on double-dipping and design an acceptable moonlighting protocol.
BECAUSE, the whole country is moonlighting. It is a fact. The cost of living is so high on Aruba, that everyone is doing more than one job, just to make ends meet, and bad decision often follow.
Dutch Government Takeover in Statia
It’s been about one hundred days since our September 16th elections, and nothing much is happening, because the hands of our new government are tied. The dire financial situation they inherited makes it difficult to do anything besides struggle to pay the most basic bills, borrow more money, and seek long-term solutions in collaboration with the Dutch government.
So far, the under-financial-supervision relationship between Aruba and the Dutch kingdom seems on track, which frankly is our only hope to one day recover from the crazy, joyless ride of the last administration.
While we are hopeful, we should pay attention to a recent development in St Eustatius, Statia, and I am quoting the Saba News: Following a condemning report, Dutch State Secretary for Interior Affairs and Kingdom Relations Raymond Knops appointed two commissioners to take charge of the Statia Government in what he called an “exceptional measure.”
According to Knops, the Statia’s own elected government completely neglected its tasks and plagued the island with intimidation and lawlessness.
Consequently, the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament and the Senate adopted a bill on Tuesday providing for an administrative intervention on that island. What it means is that the Dutch government exercised a TAKEOVER of government there on the basis of reported corruption, lack of transparency and bad governance.
The line has been drawn, the shit hit the fan, the buck stopped there. Ample warning has been given and ignored, now big stick, no carrot.
Not surprising: “Citizens, entrepreneurs and civil servants, with the exception of a few, were of the opinion that the current problems can only be solved by intervention of the Netherlands.”
Statia: The island has an area of 21 square kilometers (8.1 sq. mile). As of 2015, the population was officially estimated at 3,877. The official language is Dutch, but English is the “language of everyday life” on the island, and education is in English.
A press release I received, worthy of attention
THE TIME FOR ACTION HAS COME
Fundacion Conserva Area Cristal has as a goal the protection of nature and green areas around Sero Cristal that are still aggressively threatened by the devastating activities of companies without the appropriate permits.
In the second half of December 2017, two companies applied for a nuisance permit for their activities in Budui. Over 300 objections were subsequently submitted to the Director of Legislation and Legal Affairs on time, both by residents, the board of the foundation and a large number of residents of Aruba who support the goal of the foundation.
The foundation has received confirmation for the filing, but no response has yet been received from either the Board of Directors or the relevant Minister (s).
The responsible Minister will have to take a decision within the legal period of one month.
In the meantime, the mining company, active in Sero Plat / Babijn / Jaburibari, has applied for a nuisance permit, not just for the continuation of the sand excavation and stone crushing, but ALSO for the production of concrete and asphalt. An advertised in an announcement placed in Diario on February 1st, 2018.
Again the local residents, the foundation and all their sympathizers sprang into action to immediately object the arrival of even more unacceptable activities in this nature/green area already visibly suffering the consequences of the abuse.
The area of Marawiel, Babijn and Jaburibari, is already under pressure from the irresponsible exploitation of the terrain. The health and the living enjoyment of residents are completely compromised. The houses close to the quarry become worthless as far as their real estate value, in view of their nuisance of a neighbor!
The wind blows inland and thus brings dust, toxic gases and smoke from the asphalt plant directly into the two FCCA neighborhoods in Jaburibari, the old people’s home of Stichting Thuiszorg and Parke Curason, besides many private homes built in the vicinity.
The soil and groundwater are seriously polluted by the use and burning of oil and chemicals in that nature reserve. These dangerous substances have serious consequences for the ecosystems of Sero Cristal, Budui and Wariruri.
It is clear that the mining company in Babijn is already digging outside its property boundaries and therefore has no respect for the law. The ministry should interfere, to prevent the damage, but nothing happened so far! The destruction escalates by the week.
After the previous press release in November 2017, Minister Otmar Oduber put various departments to work to investigate and take measures, but so far it is unnoticeable. All companies resumed their activities after the December construction holiday WITHOUT the necessary permits.
Fundacion Conserva Area Cristal cannot accept this and expects all submitted objections to be dealt with within the set term, taking into account the published opinion of Minister Oduber that the island’s green area protected zones, ROP, as decreed by LAW.
If the departments concerned do not carry out adequate controls in the Cristal area within 14 days and strictly apply the existing legislation, Fundacion Conserva Area Cristal will consider meeting the government of Aruba in court for wrongful conduct against residents of the area.
The board of the foundation, L. Irausquin, G. Rodriguez, R. Helder, A. Arends and R. Wijnvende
Clarita Britten, a folk hero and Plastic Beach Party
She was a victim of a holdup, and instead of becoming a marginal news item, she became a national celebrity, with two animated shorts to her name, radio commercials, tee shirts, a music remix of her interview with reporter Speed Andrade, and a substantial number of fans: Her initial interview with him was viewed 177K times, shared 2,424 times, and liked 3.5k times. Her older sister’s interview had a mere 46K views, 475 shares, and 997 comments, it was not as spunky as the original.
You’re probably asking why? Why did a 78-year-old command so much attention?
It’s her spirit, her joy of life, her no-filter expressions, a kind of zany, naïve outpouring, her Creole slang, showing off amazing courage and a steely character in the face of a difficult situation.
The attacker surprised her as she was watching TV at her home, and demanded gold. She showed him her custom jewelry and accused him of being crazy for thinking, she would have any valuables in the house. He left with her wallet, some cash, credit cards, which she is proud of, and her phone.
During the attack she managed to lock her ailing sister in the bathroom, away from harm’s way, call the police and discourage the low-life from looking any further around her home.
I guess Speed had time that day, because he let Clarita ramble on for more than 8 minutes, a charming and comic cascade of wisdom, peppered by her observations about people, money, work and the Police. She loved every minute of the air time, and the public loved her. This was not a vulnerable little old lady, this was a force of nature which you did not want to mess with.
Best of all, she said, the handsome Policemen swarming her property, responsive and impressed by her good-looking surroundings. People are always zelos of her, she explained, they are loco!
Clarita Aruba loves you!
Kudos to Plastic Beach Party
During the Grand Carnival Parade in Oranjestad, Plastic Beach Party, a non-profit, offered to pick up and recycle trash against a small donation for the cause of sustainability. Seventy families signed up, at the end of which Plastic Beach Party collected 17.5 kilo di plastic, 10.7 kilo di aluminum cans and 50 kilo glass bottles, with the following breakdown 1.240 cups 564 bottles 97 forks and other food packaging including 32 sauce/fruit cups.
The bottles went to Brouwerij Nacional Balashi N.V. for upcycling and the cans to Daltra Antilles N.V. for recycling.
Plastic Beach Party promotes a circular island economy and their Carnival recycling efforts were helped by volunteers, students of the Universidad di Aruba and the MAGEC environmental group. They were also assisted by the Marinierskazerne in Savaneta, that allocated space behind its steel band trailer for collected plastic before the Last Lap, and the final clean up.
The Metabolic Foundation, mother company of Plastic Beach Party, operates the first plastic recycling location on Aruba at Flemmingstraat #26 in Oranjestad, open every Saturday from 12 noon to 6pm. You may contact them on Whatsapp +297 630 2475 or check them out at www.plasticbeachparty.com for more information about their activities.
Write this down: Vital Choices International
I first heard about Vital Choices from a friend I met food shopping. She raved about their healthy vegetarian cooking. It took me a while, but I got there, to Paradera 138, right on the highway. It’s easy to find, the sign is visible from the road just before the Casibari junction.
I found Karin Krugel a Swiss born life-coach and nutrition specialist, in the front of the house, in the nicely lit and organized store, and later on I visited Gladys Croes, a hospitality executive turned health food teacher and cook, in her compact and immaculate kitchen, off to the side.
Remember Gladys, how can you forget? Together with Oslin Toppenberg and Joyce Bartels Daal they opened the charming art gallery and restaurant, Gasparito in the 90s, then moved on.
Vital Choices started as a supplement store, ten years ago, then Karin decided that without the support of nutrition, supplements are useless and repositioned the business to include home-cooked meals.
When I was there around 12noon, on a Friday, I witnessed a parade of clients on a take-out mission, picking up meals for themselves and family members. They all raved about the cuisine, just like my friend in the food store.
I decided to try a meal myself: Boxed in cardboard and wrapped in paper, my lunch was a symphony of flavors, starring deliciously roasted new potatoes, grilled asparagus and stuffed eggplant rollatini on a bed of orzo, crowned by a light marinara sauce. That was a spectacular, hearty and filling vegetarian meal. Calorific, but incredibly tasty.
Karin and Gladys offer the rainbow diet, five days a week. The menu is posted on their Facebook page, please order in advance. If you buy their food, you will enjoy a variety of 17 or 18 vegetables each week, of different colors and different nutritional value, to give your body the vitamin and mineral support it needs. Good oils, and conscious preparations will also deliver anti-inflammatory, low blood sugar, reduced cholesterol and blood-pressure benefits.
In essence, they make healthy food that’s good for you, and if you’d like to lose a few pounds they will design a calorie poor diet, for a 4 days cleanse, letting you get rid of the bloating.
Go to their website for more information.
Credo: We believe it is possible to live a healthy, balanced & fulfilled life – in other words, to Be a wholesome person! It has just become a little more complicated than it used to be. With a holistic and integral approach to health and life, we offer our services to help you navigate through these issues. We are dedicated to educate, coach and practically guide you to implement the necessary foundation stones for your long-lasting health and vitality. We support you with nutritional supplementation, vegetarian meals, cooking classes, weight loss programs & lifestyle coaching.